Academy of Osseointegration Reflections

March 26, 2017

This past week, I had the privilege of attending the annual Academy of Osseointegration (AO) conference in Orlando, organized by Dr. Jeffrey Ganeles.  On a superficial level, the academy invites specialists in 3 dental fields (Periodontics, Prosthodontics, and Oral Surgery) to learn about recent research in each field as well as treatment modalities involving dental implants. On a much deeper level, the conference allows for a ‘meeting of the minds,’ bringing together thought leaders in each of those specialties and facilitating the exchange of ideas to enhance patient care.

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The AO meeting is crucial for the development of dental reconstructive therapy. It allows expert practitioners to set aside their professional biases for a few days, and instead be challenged by the work and perspectives of other experts in related specialties. Emblematic of this mentality was a lecture given by Dr. Torsten Jemt called ‘40+ Years of Myth and Reality,’ in which he highlighted misunderstandings that have been dispelled over time. I give tremendous credit to the presenters and attendees for exposing themselves to concepts that may question principles they have internalized and practiced for their entire careers.

As implant therapy is still relatively nascent, we are learning not only how to perfect delivery of initial treatment, but also how best to deal with complications that can and do arise. Many presenters spoke about their complications, and what tactics they use to resolve infections around implants. I am amazed by the willingness of the lecturers to graciously display photos of surgical failures on a jumbo screen 20 feet tall by 50 feet long. At this point in time, there does not seem to be a universal treatment protocol for ‘ailing’ implants. Hopefully, with the help of AO meetings, we can begin to develop just that.

Just as Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos still considers it to be ‘Day 1,’ of the Internet’s development and impact, I truly believe we are in our own ‘Day 1’ of digitally guided dental therapy. Digital workflow has just begun to impact the way that dental practitioners treat patients, and will certainly shape standard of care going forward. The marriage of CBCT, desktop scanning, and stereolithic printing technologies has already afforded safer and more accurate treatment. Time will tell how advances in surgical navigation and biomaterials will enhance our ability to replace teeth and restore function.

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